A few years later we moved to Chennai where one did not get good Rasgullas. What was peddled in the guise of ' Bengali sweets' was a far cry from the Rasgullas I had been used to- they had this syntheticish taste and almost seemed like one had dunked blotting paper into sugar syrup. I declared that I was better off eating Rasgullas only during the annual visit home. Though people coming down from the Eastern part of the country were kind enough to cart them for us.
It was around this time that my husband's Uncle visited us from Canada. I happened to mention that while we loved the city and were otherwise happily settled we did miss Odia sweets and often craved for them. He empathised with us as he had gone through a similar experience when he moved to Canada- in the late 60's there were a handful of places that sold Indian sweets and even the few that did sold Barfis and Pedas( longer shelf life and catered to the large migrant population from the Northern part of India). And so he had gone ahead and learnt to make them himself. That got me really excited and interested. With just a wee bit of cajoling he was willing to make them for us.
I watched him make the Rasgullas not once but during each one of his trips to India. Yes, I must shamelessly confess that a part of his holiday time did go in making Rasgullas for us. I am so thankful for his indulgence. I observed, assisted and watched closely. I learnt that he did not drain the water completely from the paneer, that he kneaded the dough patiently for a long time and then took a little bit of it in between his palms and rolled them 'lightly' into a ball. He also dropped the balls quite gingerly into the syrup. And he seemed happiest when they were all gone in minutes.
And then finally one day I was brave enough to make them on my own. A couple of attempts and I think I have now got them near perfect. Maybe not as good as Dada (Uncle) but I am getting there.
RasgullaPreparation Time: 45 minutes( 30 minutes of kneading time), Serves: 6
2 litres of full cream milkSugar: 1 cup
Sooji/Semolina: 2 tsp( 1 tsp for every litre of milk)
Vinegar: 2/3 tbsp.
Green Cardamom: 2/3
- Boil the milk. Curdle it into chenna/paneer using the vinegar. Let it stand for about 5 minutes and then drain out the water. (You could add the whey to your dough for tastier rotis or parathas- I usually end up throwing it).
- Let a little bit of the water remain in the chenna/paneer (don't let it dry out too much) else the Rasgullas will turn out quite hard/chewy.
- Spread the chenna/paneer out on a plate and add the semolina/sooji to it.
- Mix them together and knead the dough. You should knead the dough for about 30 minutes. I watched TV(helped) as I sat there kneading. The more you knead the softer the Rasgulla as they swell up really well.
- Next take a bit of the dough and roll it between your palms to make them into little round balls. Two litres should get you about 30/40 Rasgullas. By this time your palms would be covered in a layer of oil- that means you are doing it right. Keep the balls aside.
- Make sugar syrup in a deep kadai or pressure cooker(minus the lid) by boiling 1 cup of sugar in about 4 cups of water. Add 2/3 green cardamom to the syrup.
- Drop the chenna/paneer balls into the syrup one by one(give them one final roll before you drop them as this helps retain the shape).
- Let them boil for about 15 minutes- they should have become at least three to four times of their original size.
- Switch off the gas and let the Rasgullas soak in the syrup.
- Once the Rasgullas have cooled down transfer into an airtight container and leave them in the refrigerator overnight.
- Serve the following day or after they have been in the syrup for 6/8 hours. Now if you think I am stretching your patience do remember that most sweet shops make Rasgullas at night and sell them the next day.
- You could warm them for about 10 seconds in the microwave before you serve. I know many of you will prefer it cold.
I know I will sleep easy tonight thinking about the sweet treat that awaits me at breakfast.
Bon Apetit and Happy Cooking!